A Look Into The ESPN Power Point That No One Is Really Talking About

Monday, March 17, 2008


Awhile back Sports Business Daily asked me for a very brief reasoning for why I liked and disliked ESPN. Here's what I came up with....

Why I Like ESPN:
They air over 80% of all televised games. That reason only outweighs every negative reason I think I could come up with. I also like them because they employ extremely intelligent people. Some get lost in the shuffle, but you can't say that the majority of ESPN's employees aren't hard workers. I like ESPN for PTI, Scott Van Pelt, Brian Kinney, Rece Davis, Mike Tirico, Chris Fowler, and for some reason still……Bill Simmons.

Why I Hate ESPN:
Hate is such a strong word which is why I use the term "strong dislike". Contrary to popular belief I don't hate everything ESPN (as evidenced above), but I do loathe a lot of what they do. They've gone from a staple of Sports Reporting to a corporate monopoly with Disney interests taking precedent over the game and the players. I "strongly dislike" ESPN for Who's Now, Colin Cowherd, Chris Berman, Monday Night Football In-Booth Guests, Emmitt Smith, Around the Horn and for some reason still……Scoop Jackson.
I'm not breaking any new ground there and I'm sure many of you all feel the same way. Well I didn't know this at the time but SBD was putting together an article about this mysterious Power Point presentation that has been making the rounds at League Offices and Ad Buying Institutions.

Entitled “The Emperor’s New Clothes: How ESPN’s Multi-Platform Strategy Hasn’t Improved Ratings”, the Power Point presentation looks into many things about the "Leader" but none more damning than ESPN's newest league acquisitions. The PP claims that ESPN has not helped leagues like the NBA, NASCAR, and the NFL grow since taking over rights to those league's games, and has even caused huge ratings declines in some cases. It even prompted ESPN to create their own Power Point in rebuttal called “ESPN Myth and Reality”. Here is a brief snippet from SBD's review of the Power Point.....
It’s clear that ESPN, the 800-pound gorilla of the sports media marketplace, has a bull’s-eye on its back.

Rival networks are tweaked by the size, scope and perceived arrogance of the self-described “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Leagues also are critical of ESPN, complaining that ESPN’s vaunted marketing machine does a better job of promoting ESPN rather than its sports. Surprisingly and naively, they still are irked by ESPN’s news division, which often presents unflattering stories about various properties. This is a concern that is being voiced more frequently these days, as the company beefs up its editorial operation — TV, online and print — with top-flight journalists.

Just two weeks ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern publicly blasted ESPN The Magazine for a package of stories leading up to the NBA All-Star Game.

On the buy side, ad executives have expressed frustration with what they call a bureaucratic process of buying time. They complain that ESPN doesn’t offer enough prime positions and is much more difficult to work with than broadcast shops.
The whole thing is an amazing read and you should be able to access it through the link below. The current state of ESPN always makes me think of a Henry Demarest Lloyd quote I first heard in a High School Economics class, "Monopoly is business at the end of its journey".

It's a shame really.

Taking aim at Bristol (Sports Business Journal)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 12:48 PM

6 Comments:

Good stuff

Mar 17, 2008, 2:49:00 PM  

I forgot about Scoop Jackson! Is he still alive?

GMoney said...
Mar 17, 2008, 4:13:00 PM  

What happened to the ombudsman column? March is half-over and there hasn't been a new one.

Anonymous said...
Mar 17, 2008, 6:13:00 PM  

A few random comments:
1. How do you leave Stephen A. Smith off the "strong dislike" list?
2. I read through the linked article. I follow horse racing a good bit. I thought ESPN did a good job with the Breeders Cup, itself (lots of Kenny Mayne is reason enough to watch). However, in my opinion, they didn't cover enough other races during the racing season as a build up to the BC races.
3. What ESPN had historically done well is (a) highlights and (b) take sports or events with below average national interest and help grow those sports. NHL, horse racing, and tennis would be a good fit for the "old school" ESPN.

Mal said...
Mar 17, 2008, 9:30:00 PM  

It's funny how one of the main complaints of informed viewers is the stench of synergy, and one of the reasons the leagues supposedly dislike ESPN right now is that there isn't enough pimping of the products they are partnered with.

I totally agree with the point about ESPN is able to market ESPN the brand much more effectively than anything else they do.

Hank said...
Mar 17, 2008, 9:55:00 PM  

Can someone post a link to the PowerPoint presentation? I tried to Google it but couldn't find it. I can't believe no one has posted it on the internets yet.

webster114 said...
Mar 17, 2008, 11:40:00 PM  

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